Ki Tavo

As a Gentile, when you go to a Jewish Shabbat service for the first time, you learn a lot.

1. Don’t use Christianese. I generally try to avoid Cristianese, but there are ways of speaking that I didn’t even realize I do. For example, I may have said (can’t remember, I was too nervous), “I have a heart for Israel.” After I said it, I realized how condescending that sounds. Who am I that I have something to bring to Israel? Christians tend to talk as if we have something to give to the world, and although we do, saying that just turns off your audience. We are sent to serve, and being servants demands humility, not pride. Thankfully, I only said it that way once and quickly reformed what I said. But there were other little speech mistakes that I made that were in the same vein.

2. Don’t act as if you know their religion well, because you don’t. The only Jew I’ve ever had intense theological discussions with was my (just recently) ex-boyfriend, and he isn’t super religious. The Jews I met today are Orthodox, so their idea of their religion is much different than mine, even if I’ve learned a *little* bit recently. Thankfully, I didn’t start telling them that I disagree with some of their traditions, but the way I talked about my view of Torah may have clashed some with theirs.

For example, I mentioned how I would like to hold Shabbat dinners with my Christian friends, and the woman I was talking to told me about how Orthodox Jews believe that Gentiles aren’t obligated to the Law, but only to the Noachide laws. This was different than I’d learned recently, so it really made me think. Am I obligated to Torah at the same level of the Jews? It is a responsibility, she reminded me. In fact, Orthodox Jews discourage forcing Torah upon Gentiles.

3. Although they are American, it is a different culture. A panel separates boys from girls? There are special procedures for taking the Torah out of the Ark and reading the Torah? There has to be ten men? What’s up with the uniforms? (It felt like uniforms to me.) It was so completely unfamiliar. And, my mistakes with Christianese came in again, because I assumed that I could talk about my relationship to Torah like I would to someone raised Christian or someone who grew up around Christians. I mentioned to someone that my sister is coming home from her missions trip today (Yay!), and he didn’t know what a missions trip was until someone used a Hebrew term. I referred to the Moedim as feasts, and he asked, “You mean the festivals?” (I then said “Yeah, the Moedim” and they were amazed I knew the word in Hebrew. :3) They may live in America, but they are a separate people.

4. Although as a Gentile grafted in I try to understand the ancient Israelites, the Jews are very aware that they are physical Israel. This week’s parsha covers the curses of Devarim 28, and for the Jews it is real and scary. When I first read it, I thought it was intense and I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but it wasn’t directly relevant to me. But for Jews it is all too real, and it is not something they like to dwell on. They read the portion swiftly and in a low tone to get it over with!

It was a humbling experience, and it prompted a lot of questions. How much of the Torah does YHWH really want me to follow? How much of the Rabbinical traditions are YHWH-blessed and how much aren’t? What is my place in relationship to the modern Jews? Are the Jews really “damned” without Yahushua? Can anyone really understand Torah in the intended way?

Up until now I’ve gathered a lot of head knowledge, but I think today I finally gained some heart knowledge. I got a taste of what it’s like to be a Jew. It must be strange from their point of view, that Christianity has stolen their book, slapped on another book plus a messiah, and thinks it knows better. How many Christians don’t think that Jews are backwards and stubborn? From their angle, we must be perverted and egotistical.

YHWH is so much bigger than I can even begin to comprehend. And He’s got a handle on the situation. He knows exactly how it’s going to end. He knows who’s got it right, and who’s got it wrong. And He knows the hearts of those who love Him and are honestly seeking Him, and He knows the hearts of those how argue about His word for their own conquests. And in the end, He is a merciful El. I don’t need to be worried about how to make it work, because He’s got a plan. He knows tomorrow although I may not.

Arise, shine, for you light has come! And the esteem of YHWH has risen upon you. For look, darkness covers the earth, and this darkness the peoples. But YHWH arises over you, and His esteem is seen upon you. And the nations shall come to your light, and sovereigns to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your  eyes all around and see: all of them have gathered, they have come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are supported on the side.





I think I disgusted my boyfriend the other day.

We were having a theological argument discussion, as we tend to do. That day we happened to be talking about how the Christian Jesus feels too Pagan for him to follow. Meanwhile, I’m trying to show my (Jewish) boyfriend just how Jewish Yeshua is. We finally ended the discussion, and he made a funny comment about how Abba must be okay with magic, because my boyfriend loves Fantasy literature so much (as I do).

Well, said I, He’s okay with magic that is done according to His will. I mentioned works of healing, prophecy, and more. Eventually I cited that the Pagan sacrificing of children is an abomination to YHWH because they were doing spiritual works outside of YHWH’s will and for their own purposes. My boyfriend tried to make a point about modern American child sacrifices, but I said that was not my point. My point was that they had disobeyed YHWH, and that was the greater sin.

Wait, you’re saying that disobeying YHWH is worse than sacrificing children? He asked.

Our conversation didn’t last much longer, but I think that might have bothered him a little bit. My point is that sin is sin, no matter what it is.

Don’t get me wrong. Killing children is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. But, it is disgusting because YHWH says it is, because doing so is goes against His commands. Technically, if YHWH commanded such a deed, it would not be sinful or disgusting. In fact, YHWH asked such of Abraham, to offer up his only son. Yes, Yitzhaq was a grown man, but he was Abraham’s promised son, and YHWH told Abraham to offer him up.

However, YHWH saved Yitzhaq in the end, and Abraham was rewarded for his obedience. Thankfully, YHWH is a loving Creator, and He has made it a command not to sacrifice children. That does not mean there is not lawful killing. In Exodus, Abba outlines capital punishment for crimes of premeditated murder (not accidental murder), attacking and harming your parents, kidnapping whether the victim is harmed or not, and even cursing or shaming your parents. (Torah Class, Exodus lesson 22). Capital punishment protects innocent lives. How many prisoners finish their time and commit more crimes?

The law of capital punishment is an aspect of YHWH’s instructions that we see as “disgusting”. We are above such laws, we are more “humane” than that. Kosher? Kosher is tedious and unnecessary; we know how to cook our food properly. Sabbath? We have “Sunday”, the day “Jesus” rose from the dead. That must be more important than something YHWH commanded the Hebrews to follow. No images? That’s just ridiculous. We don’t worship images of a (gentile) Jesus or wear crosses (of the sun-deity Tammuz.) It’s just art, just symbols.

When are we going to stop favoring our idea of what is right, and start obeying His word, His instructions? Even if they seem disgusting, old fashioned, or tedious, they are YHWH’s instructions. I’ll end here with some words of the Apostle Yochanan.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Y’shua Messiah the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of Elohim is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.



So check out Michael Rood’s video on Christmas and Easter: http://www.yah-tube.com/videos/rood/1_rood_tradition/index.html

I had heard a lot about these pagan holidays reading Come Out of Her My People by C.J. Koster, but I learned even more from this video. Some interesting highlights include that Easter eggs were originally dyed with infants’ blood, and the treasure brought by the Magi was from Daniel. I recommend checking it out.

Abandoning these traditions and honoring Yahweh’s appointed times is a little challenging. It’s not hard to make the mental switch, I was decided as soon as I heard a sermon on it from Pastor Mark McLellan of the Harvest congregation in Colorado. But actually implementing them?

Not doing Easter this year was easy. I was in Japan, so there was no Easter dinner or service I was obligated to. The spring festivals? I was still (and am still) new to it all, so I wasn’t sure how to observe them. For example, the festival of unleavened bread is a challenge because I can’t eat bread anyway. So was I supposed to tell my host mom I wouldn’t be eating bread, even though I wasn’t eating it already? I did count the days of Omer…That wasn’t too hard.

But now I’m looking forward to the fall festivals. I bought a (kindle edition) book on how to observe the festivals, and I’m going to organize events to include my friends and introduce them to the true appointed, set-apart days. I’ve already booked space for Yom Kippur, and I’m thinking I should book the same space for Rosh Hashanah too. Sukkot? I’m thinking I’ll rent some tents to live on the quad for a week. I’m pretty serious about that, and seriously excited.

The challenge comes with Christmas. Of course my family is deeply rooted in Christmas. So what do I do? Keep my family from decorating? Forbid them from giving me presents? Will I not even go to Grandma’s on the day? I am praying about it, and I know Yahweh will give me wisdom when the time comes. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. It will be a trial, and continue to be for at least the first few years.

But I take joy and strength in all of it. I have begun to feel the joy of obedience, and it is wonderful. I read Kedoshim Ministries’ post from yesterday, and although I am not at the stage in my journey that Bithiah is, I feel more of that “true joy” everyday. I will obey Yahweh because I love Him, and He loves me. It’s so exciting!

(Side ramble: The Hebrew romanization system is different from the Japanese system, so I get confused on both spelling and pronunciation. Oy vey.)

Yahweh bless you and keep you
Yahweh make His face to shine upon you
Yahweh lift His face upon you and gives you Shalom



On my college ministry group page on Facebook, someone asked,

What makes being a Christian so great, and why should a non-believer believe in God?
(You can’t say it’s cause you get to go to heaven)

And so I answered

Being a Christian is so great because it’s about having a personal relationship with Yahweh. He loves you so super duper much, and He’ll do anything to prove His love for you. As you lean on Him, and trust in Him, you learn more and more about who He is, and thus ultimately who He has created you to be.
To answer the last question, as part of the process you cannot help but love the people around us. We are all made in Yahweh’s each image, each a different facet of who He is. If you are to love Him, you are to love each individual around you because they are a reflection of our Creator. You receive Yahweh’s love, love Him back, and then pour it out on everybody around you.
Of course this explanation sounds very idealistic, it is the (an) ideal after all. There are challenges and obstacles along the way. We wrestle with Yahweh and our lives. We rebel and turn the other way. But He is always there, He will never let you go. Even when it seems that all is lost, He is there. He will always be there.
And that is (part) of why it is so awesome to be a Christian because the love of Yahweh, the love of the Messiah Yeshua, is so much more wonderful and joyful than anything you can physically see. (And He reveals Himself physically in many ways every day, but that’s a different topic for another day.)

If you read all of that, cool.

But I have more to say than just that. Actually, it times perfectly with an essay I am starting. There’s a writing contest for my school, and the prompt is a quote from John Muir.

“Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”

How is this related to my Facebook discussion? Well, after looking up more about John Muir, Yahweh gave me a really awesome idea. John Muir was a nineteenth century environmentalist, known as the Father of National Parks. He was also an avid evangelist, and he believed that nature was proof of God in many ways. He was also part of the evangelical movement to throw away tradition and go back to the scriptures. (Sound familiar?)

My thesis? Yahweh (God) created the world and man in it to function in a specific way in relation to Yahweh, the natural world, and our fellow man, and when we function in that way there are abundant blessings upon blessings, but instead of heeding Yahweh’s loving commands, we have turned away and decided to do things as we see best, resulting in a selfish people, dedicated to our own needs, and neglecting to foster a good relationship with Yahweh, with nature, or with each other, leaving us touching, commingling, but ultimately separate identities, not part of a whole.

Okay, that is a really long sentence, and a wordy thesis. The thesis I turn in will probably look different, and be much more refined.

I will divulge parts of my ideas and probably parts of a final draft on here as I go along. Tomorrow I will give a fuller outline of what I have in mind, although it is still very rough at this point. But to connect back to my opening section, ideally, (keyword:ideally) if, as a Christian, you follow Yahweh as He intends for us to follow him, then bit by bit you become less like a piece of stone, touching but separate, and more a part of a whole. You will slowly feel unity with Yahweh, with nature, with other people. I am far from reaching full unity, and I won’t until Yeshua comes again. But I definitely feel that this topic is something that Yahweh has put on my heart to write, even if I don’t win the contest.

Look for more tomorrow. Shalom!

Oh, and PS about the second part of the question? A non-believer should believe in Yahweh because He smote the Egyptians and rescued the Hebrews in a mighty way. Enough said.